under the speed limit

Can I go to jail for dangerous driving?

Our solicitors look at whether you can go to jail for dangerous driving.


The Simple answer to this question is Yes.


Section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 defines Dangerous Driving as ‘a person is to be regarded as driving dangerously if; (a) the way he drives falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver’. The main part of this to take note of is the ‘far below’ element. There is no defined definition of ‘far below’; however, it must be clear to a good capable driver the driving was dangerous. For example, it could have posed a danger of serious damage to property or person injury as per S.2.A(3) RTA 1988.


A common misconception with dangerous driving is that it must be an intentional act.


As dangerous driving is a strict liability offence, there is no requirement for proof of men’s rea in relation to one or more aspects of the actus reus. In simple terms, the police have no obligation to prove you intended to drive dangerously to proceed with a conviction. It is also irrelevant how long your found to be driving dangerously at the time of committing the offence. Unfortunately, you can be convicted of dangerous driving for a lapse of judgement that lasted less than a minute. When considering your case the Judge/s will also look at the circumstances surrounding the offence; such as how busy the roads were, weather conditions and the number of pedestrians in the vicinity.


Dangerous driving is regarded as one of the most serious motoring offences a person can be convicted of.


This is due to the offence covering serious actions such as a police chase, racing/driving aggressively, driving whilst under the influence, to name a few. As this offence is held in such serious regard; it can bypass the Magistrates Court and be heard at Crown Court for a trial by jury.


Sentencing for dangerous driving is split into three bands dependant on the serious nature of the offence.


Despite the band your case falls into; the Magistrates Guidelines state there must be a disqualification of 12 months for anyone found to be GUILTY of the offence. This is magnified to at least 24 months if the person has two or more disqualification periods of at least 56 days in the past three years. The sentencing bands apply as follows :


Band One

You can expect to fall into this band if, you have been involved in a single incident where little or no damage has been caused or; there was little or no risk of personal injury. Sentencing for this band starts at a Medium Level Community Order, which is between 80 – 150 hours of unpaid work. However, the Judge/s have the capacity to award between a Low Level to High Level Community Order; which can fall anywhere between 40 – 300 hours of unpaid work. This band also carries a driving disqualification of 12- 15 months.


Band Two

To fall within this band, you may have been involved in an incident/s that involved excessive speeding or ‘showing off’; particularly on busy roads or in busy areas. Or; you could have been involved in a single incident where there was little/no damage or risk of personal injury, but the offender was disqualified from driving. The sentencing for this band starts with a 12 – week custodial sentence. Although the Judge/s have the scope to award between a High Level Community order and a 26 week custodial sentence. In addition, this band carries a 15-24 month driving disqualification.


Band Three

If you have prolonged bad driving, involving deliberate disregard for the safety of others, you may fall within the highest band. Alternatively, you may have been involved in incident/s involving excessive speed or ‘showing off’, especially on busy roads/build up areas, by a driver disqualified from driving. This band also involves any driving as described in Band Two but with the addition of the driver being pursued by police. The sentencing for this Band is taken directly to the Crown Court; this could then result in a trial before a jury, potentially resulting in immediate custody. Custodial sentences can range from a few weeks to two years.


Overall, the minimum penalty for this offence is a twelve month driving disqualification and a fine upwards of £5,000, if this is a first offence.


The driver may also be required to undertake an extended retest. If your case is heard in a Magistrates Court the maximum sentence you could receive is a six month custodial sentence. If the case is dealt with by a Crown Court, you could receive up to a maximum of two years imprisonment.


Contact our solicitors today


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If you want to find out if you could go to jail for dangerous driving, contact us today by phoning 0330 912 2124, emailing [email protected], or by using our website by filling out an online form.

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